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As you have probably read in many news outlets at this point, Gov McCrory has taken the somewhat surprising step of bestowing significant pay raises on his cabinet secretaries – as large as $13,200.  While some are complaining about the fiscal impact of the decision in such tough economic times, it seems that the more apt criticism involves the message it sends to the large mass of North Carolina workers (both public and private) who, if they’ve even been able to keep a job at all, have been eking by on flat salaries for years that average far, far less than what the cabinet secretaries make.

Moreover, McCrory’s statement in defense of his action — “I’m trying to make it at least where they can afford to live while running multibillion-dollar departments,” simply doesn’t wash. Any North Carolinian who can’t “live” in Raleigh on $121,807 per year — the salaries of the outgoing secretaries in the Perdue administration — has some serious issues that bespeak a significant  disconnect from the lives lived by their fellow citizens. This seems especially true for the people in question — all of whom appear to come from comfortable upper middle class and upper class existences already.

The bottom line: This is another surprisingly tin-eared step for a new Guv who has spent so much time talking about the tough economic times that grip our state.

Governor McCrory says he favors a new North Carolina law that would require all voters to show a photo ID before they are allowed to vote. He also said on the day of his swearing in that he wanted North Carolina to be “a state undivided.” According to John Frank’s “Morning Memo” in Raleigh News & Observer, however:

“A new report from the State Board of Elections found as many as 613,000 voters, or 9.25 percent of the North Carolina’s voters, may not have a state issued driver’s licensed or identification card.”

So, tell us Governor: What’s the plan? How will you make us “a state undivided” if one of the first things you plan to do is make it much harder for one-in-11 adults to exercise a core constitutional right?

Governor Pat McCrory held the first press conference of his new administration Monday to share with reporters the good, the bad and the ugly.

The ugly, according to the new governor, would be the state’s information technology systems – so “broken” in many departments,  it will be essential to work with contractors to modernize existing programs and create better back-up computer systems.

McCrory said his budget director and cabinet secretaries would also be examining the maintenance operation needs of state buildings in serious need of repair:

“This is not just true of buildings, but we’ve had this example with roads and other infrastructure, where we build new things without having sufficient operations money to run them,” said the governor. “This is a long-term structural breakdown…that you can’t put on any one individual or political party. This is an institutional structural breakdown.”

The bad: While North Carolina has a razor thin surplus, the state faces a “cash-flow crunch” likely through May, as the Revenue Department works to process income tax refunds in a timely manner.

Asked about the possibility of seeking new revenue in the upcoming legislative session, Gov. McCrory said that was off the table: Read More

An editorial in Raleigh’s News & Observer gets it right in calling on Governor-elect McCrory and state legislative leaders to wake up and smell the coffee when it comes to the state’s failing mental health system.

“Pat McCrory, the incoming governor and a Republican, sounds the right note when he says, ‘Frankly, we have a broken mental health system in our nation and in our state. We’ve got to do some serious work to close those deficiencies.’ He’s right. Now the challenge for McCrory is to push his GOP majorities in the state House and Senate, where the inclination is to cut budgets in all directions, to invest in better mental health care, with something of a focus on that young adult group….

The new governor and the General Assembly need to face the funding shortage that lawmakers helped create and recognize that a state without adequate care for the mentally ill hurts patients and the state itself. Read More

Business groups and their conservative allies have been holding forth a great deal in recent weeks about their plans for altering some of the basic components of North Carolina’s tax and safety net systems. Today, Governor-elect McCrory even made the remarkably ill-informed and radical statement at an NC Bankers Association event that he didn’t know if he would allow North Carolina to accept federal unemployment insurance funds approved as part of the “fiscal cliff” deal

If you’re looking for alternative points of view that explore how we can modernize these critical systems without slashing essential services or harming working families, you owe it to yourself to attend next Monday’s NC Policy Watch Crucial Conversation: “How North Carolina can fix its unemployment insurance system without harming workers and their families or the economy, featuring national employment law expert George Wentworth.”    

Click here for more information.